Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake announced May 6 she was calling for the U.S Department of Justice to launch a broad civil rights investigation into the Baltimore City Police Department’s policing habits.
“We have to get it right; failure is not an option,” said Rawlings-Blake in an Associated Press recording of the press conference posted on YouTube. “In order to achieve the kind of significant and sustainable reform that we want to see, and I want to see, that the citizens want to see in Baltimore, I am requesting the Department of Justice conduct a federal or pattern or practice investigation into the Baltimore City Police Department.”
Her announcement came a day after she met with newly appointed U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch. The two discussed the possibilities of bringing additional help to the city to address the lack of trust between police and the community, according to USA Today.
Rawlings-Blake said she was in support of the DOJ conducting an investigation, citing that the department has “employed these investigations in communities across our nation to reform a series of patterns and practices of excessive force, biased policing and other unconstitutional practices by law enforcement.”
She added that “such an investigation is essential if we are going to build on the foundation of reforms that we have instituted over the last few years.”
The investigation is similar to the one in Ferguson, Mo., and would review the major components of policing in the city to see if any bias exists in the department’s traffic stops, arrests, and other operations, according to USA Today.
This comes a week after Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby found that there was “probable cause” to file criminal charges against the six officers involved in the arrest of Freddie Gray on April 12. Gray suffered from a severe spinal cord injury while in custody and died in the hospital on April 19. His death was ruled as a homicide. The Baltimore Police Department conducted their own investigation and found that the officers should have given Gray medical attention sooner.
The AP reports that nearly 20 police departments have been investigated by the Justice Department in this way since 2009. Many are in support of Rawlings-Blake’s request for the investigation, including Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan and Congressman Elijah Cummings, D-Md.
“We must know whether there is a pattern or practice by the department that systemically violates people’s rights,” Cummings said in a statement. “Mr. Gray’s death is only the most recent case underscoring the need to examine our police department from top to bottom.”
Twitter: @ hunter_jonathan